“Forget all the pictures you have in mind of the old Baselworld. We have changed everything”. We spoke to Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of Baselworld, at the pop-up event held at a venue named IceBergues in Geneva, featuring ten watch brands. After the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 Baselworld shows, organizers MCH Group are looking to the future and introducing major changes.
“The new Baselworld will be held next year in Basel, but there will also be shows in Asia and the USA. We think that Covid will cause people to travel less, and so we have to expand our area of activities and be there where it happens. The major markets are China and the United States, and the new events will take place there, at dates after the show in Basel. Big brands can do anything anywhere, but smaller brands need platforms like Baselworld. We are currently engaged in discussions with different cities”.
Baselworld 2022, new booth concept, better hotel relations
Baselworld’s problems caused by coronavirus were compounded by other issues beginning a year earlier. After decades of success that gave Baselworld a leadership position amongst watch and jewellery exhibitions, from 2017 a number of brands decided to leave the show, with Movado group exiting in November 2017, Swatch Group’s 18 brands withdrawing in July 2018, and Breitling leaving in April 2019. Many more brands followed as countries went into lockdown in 2020. This led to a strategic rethink. “We have changed everything”, says Michel Loris-Melikoff, “we have listened to exhibitors, many of whom complained about square metre prices and the costs of hospitality. In order to achieve the transformation, it was important to listen to the industry, to brands, journalists and enthusiasts, and find out exactly what they need in today’s market. The booth concept will be different, the relationship with hotels will be different”.
The events and discussions held during the pop-up at IceBergues included themes that will probably return during next year’s grand Baselworld show: blockchain, the increasing importance of CPO (certified pre-owned watches and jewellery), women in watchmaking and the art of collecting.
One thing that most people will have noticed during the coronavirus period is that, though digital offers a fantastic way of bringing watches to a global audience, it can never replace physical contact, above all for people who are considering buying a timepiece. “The new Baselworld will have a hybrid approach, combining digital and physical. All presentations will be streamed”, says Michel.
After the cancellation of the 2020 Baselworld and Watches & Wonders Geneva, in March 2020 eight brands announced the launch of Geneva Watch Days, originally intended for April but actually held in August. What was the reason for the Baselworld pop-up event at Geneva Watch Days this year? “I visited Geneva Watch Days last year and appreciated this easy-going approach to the promotion of watch brands. In June 2021 we announced that Baselworld was back, and Geneva Watch Days 2021 offered a good stage at which to present the new Baselworld concept to the community. Once we had found this location (IceBergues), we considered how many brands we could host, in a light and easy format. We started work on the project just 9 weeks ago, and so we had to work fast. We selected 10 exhibitors with the objective of presenting a variety of brand types, high-end, mid-range, and brands with new distribution concepts. From the start, we contacted Bulgari and Breitling, organizers of Geneva Watch Days. We wanted to arrive as friends, not competitors”.
Baselworld 2022 dates
Thank you, Michel, for this interview opportunity, and we look forward to the new-format Baselworld 2022, which will be held in Basel from Thursday 31 March to Monday 4 April 2022. These dates coincide almost exactly with the dates for Watches & Wonders in Geneva, 30 March-5 April 2022.